hort.net Seasonal photo, (c) 2006 Christopher P. Lindsey, All Rights Reserved: do not copy
articles | gallery of plants | blog | tech blog | plant profiles | patents | mailing lists | top stories | links | shorturl service | tom clothier's archive0
 Navigation
Articles
Gallery of Plants
Blog
Tech Blog
Plant Profiles
Patents
Mailing Lists
    FAQ
    Netiquette
    Search ALL lists
    Search help
    Subscription info
Top Stories
Links
sHORTurl service
Tom Clothier's Archive
 Top Stories
Disease could hit Britain's trees hard

Ten of the best snowdrop cultivars

Plant protein database helps identify plant gene functions

Dendroclimatologists record history through trees

Potato beetle could be thwarted through gene manipulation

Hawaii expands coffee farm quarantine

Study explains flower petal loss

Unauthorized use of a plant doesn't invalidate it's patent

RSS story archive

More compost talk

  • Subject: [cg] More compost talk
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 11:12:40 -0800 (PST)

Hi, all,

I agree with you, Dorene, about keeping composting
simple - to a point. Teaching composting locally, I
find that people _like_ to get a hot pile, and in my
opinion, it is best to teach them how to succeed with
a hot pile using a simple straightforward technique
and 'recipe'. These folks are, of course,
self-selecting people who decide to come to a
composting class on Saturday morning. However, I also
find this is true in schools, where kids love to see
the steam rising and feel the heat. That opens doors
to all kinds of lessons on microbes, soils, ecology,
waste reduction...

In one sense, Monica is right. Composting is a human
process, not a 'natural' one. We intervene to create
optimal conditions for the type of decomposition
ecology and end product we want (some methods, at
opposite philosophical ends of the compost spectrum,
require specific materials, from genetically
engineered enzymes to homeopathic extracts stirred
counterclockwise by moonlight). The relationship
between 'natural' decomposition and composting is
roughly similar to the relationship between spoiled
sour milk and yogurt. They are alike, but not
necessarily both appropriate for the same human
purposes. Yogurt works a lot better in a smoothie.

Even when you just 'let it rot', you are intervening
in the process. And, as Stu Campbell agrees in his
excellent little book, you'd better intervene at least
a bit - for instance, I'd keep bermudagrass rhizomes
strictly out of any compost headed for my garden, and
I'd be wary these days of picking up herbicide treated
grass clippings.

With food scraps, just tossing them in a heap is fine,
if you (and the neighbors and the city) don't mind
odor, flies and a pretty mess when the dogs or possums
or rats get into it.

So, you are absolutely right in not wanting to turn
people off by making composting sound intimidating,
and it is certainly counterproductive to be critical
of people trying to compost as best they can (that
works on the other side, too - Elaine Ingham is no
ivory tower academic, she's a soil ecologist who hopes
that her insights and research will have real impact
in the real world). Personally, I think community
gardens are a great place to model good composting
techniques a step above simply piling debris in a
corner of the lot. The 'ol heap is better than
nothing, but there's a better way.

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

Dorene wrote:

>Connie forwarded from Monica:

>What you are doing is not composting; you are rotting
your materials, 
>which natures does on its own.

Oh, please.  This is the type of attitude that
intimidates people into 
not 
composting.  "Hot composting" is one technique among
many.

Composting is nothing to stress about.  While Elaine
Ingraham (sp) and 
<http://www.soilfoodweb.com>www.soilfoodweb.com are
completely 
brilliant 
and if one wants to do the work, is completely worth
the time, if your 
pile 
is working for you and you don't have problems, IT'S
OKAY!  And the 
vermicomposting people will tell you that if you have
active worms in 
your 
pile, all sorts of good things will happen that are
different than the 
good 
things that happen during hot composting. There are
pros and cons to 
each 
technique.  Do what works best for you and your
situation.

The first book I read on composting still remains the
best (in print 
since 
1975!):

Let It Rot: The Gardener's Guide to Composting
(Storey's Down-To-Earth 
Guides) by Stu Campbell, ISBN: 1580170234

The title says it all!


Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community
Garden

A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street,
Phoenixville, PA  
19460 


______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden





 © 1995-2015 Mallorn Computing, Inc.All Rights Reserved.
Our Privacy Statement
Other Mailing lists | Author Index | Date Index | Subject Index | Thread Index